How did you first get involved with CLEBC?
Jack Giles, QC, then a senior litigator at Farris, enlisted me to co-author a paper on limitation periods for a 2001 CLEBC conference on torts. He graciously ensured I was acknowledged as co-author and arranged for me to attend the course. And yes, for those who knew, or know of, Jack: his presentation was delivered with his customary panache.
What are you currently working on (or have most recently worked on) with CLEBC?
I am chairing CLEBC’s Commercial Arbitration 2023 on Thursday, February 23. In this course, arbitration counsel and arbitrators will tackle the tough questions arising in arbitration – the logistics, the theory, and the impact of British Columbia’s new Arbitration Act, which came into force in September 2020.
In November 2022, Ron Usher and I co-chaired a conference on the Cullen Commission report on money laundering in British Columbia. Ron, our other panelists, and I all had a role in the inquiry, whether as counsel or as a witness. It was interesting to combine those perspectives and look ahead to steps that are being, and might still be, taken to safeguard against money laundering.
You have an extensive litigation practice, particularly in the areas of corporate and commercial law. What inspired you to practice in this area?
My transcript might – just possibly! – give the impression that I wanted to practice public international law (or join MI6, though given nationality, risk aversion, and lack of athletic ability that would never have worked). From my first week of articling, however, my Farris colleagues involved me in corporate and commercial cases that posed fascinating factual, legal, and strategic issues. The hunt for evidence was as interesting as the legal research and analysis, and it is a joy as a litigator to have the chance to strategize with solicitors who bring different perspectives to bear.
You are very active in the legal community both as a contributor to publications and as a speaker on various topics related to your practice. What motivates you to give back to the profession?
I feel as though it’s a case of receiving more than giving. It is terrific to have the opportunity to interact with dedicated CLEBC staff, fellow panelists, and audience members on subjects of interest. And maybe what I’m about to add is a consideration particularly associated with litigators and their ever-present search for a forum in which to present … it is certainly no hardship to think – well, leap to the convenient conclusion – that when I am asked to participate, that means people might want to read or hear what I would like to say.
What is the best piece of advice that you have ever received?
One of my bad habits is not seeking advice as much as I should (because I don’t want to impose) and, contrarian that I am, resisting advice that is volunteered. Perhaps for these reasons, I haven’t gotten all that much advice over the course of my career. And perhaps the lesson that should be drawn from this – if I may offer some advice to readers – is to do better than I do, and take advantage of opportunities to get advice when you can!
What is your favorite book, and what are you currently reading?
My favorites (yes, in plural) are those books that, since childhood, I take from the shelf when I’d like their characters’ company: one of the Lake District instalments of the Swallows and Amazons series, the stories of English schoolteacher Ms. Read, or a Dorothy Sayers mystery featuring Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane.
I’m currently reading Minarets in the Mountains, by Tharik Hussain. I purchased it because the title exactly captured what I’d seen from the windows of my tour bus in the summer of 2019 – minarets set in Bosnia’s mountainous landscape. The author writes about the extraordinary – and often mischaracterized – Muslim history and legacy in the Balkans.
Other than law, what are you passionate about?
Local history – which fortunately for me, often intersects enough with law that I get to write about it in the “Legal Anecdotes and Miscellanea” column in the Advocate (of which I am the assistant editor). Our province, and the legal profession here, have an incredibly rich history. Some of it is tragic, some of it should be the source of great pride, and – fortunately – some of it is quite funny!